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Re: [pct-l] PCT Musings

Keep your very helpful musings coming!  I'd be really interested in your 
experience with the TelMail, how you used it, whether, in the long run, it 
was worth the half pound, etc.

>From: HShires@aol.com
>To: pct-l@edina.hack.net
>Subject: [pct-l] PCT Musings
>Date: Wed, 29 Sep 1999 02:52:00 EDT
>Hi all,
>I'm slowly getting caught up on all the PCT-L postings from the last few
>months and wanted to put my 2 cents in on a few threads based on my PCT
>experience this summer.  In no particular order, here goes:
>Stoves - I used the Esbit stove and fuel and absolutely loved it.  I used a
>1.3 liter pot and borrowed the windscreen from my MSR whisperlite.  I 
>one liter of water for every meal and used 2 tabs/meal (about 1 oz of 
>I also used fuel from Coughlans (sp?) that comes 24 tablets to a box and
>requires 4 tablets/liter.  As far as I could tell it's the same thing as 
>Esbit fuel but it's cheaper per meal. Either way it took about 10 minutes 
>boil the water.  I cooked in all kinds of temperatures and humidities and
>never once had a problem.  The system is absolutely foolproof and while
>others had problems with clogged stoves I never worried.  The "stove" is
>really just a fold open stand and could be replaced by something a little
>lighter (one fellow PCTer just used rocks).  The key is the windscreen.
>Corn Pasta - I kind of liked it, especially with tomato/pesto/cheese sauce
>but I agree that it's not a wonder food.  I ate it about once a week and
>wouldn't have minded eating it more often.
>Misc food - I made up 2 oz bottles of squeeze Parkay for my food boxes and
>then poured an ounce of the stuff into my rice, pasta, and mashed potato
>dinners.  It really helped improve the flavor and fat content of my 
>Parmesan cheese also went well with just about everything.  I also had
>vegetables (dried peas, corn, onions, carrots, zuccini, green pepper, red
>pepper) with every meal and they really helped improve the taste, texture,
>and spiritual satisfaction quotient.  For breakfast I had granola or
>grapenuts with Milkman powdered milk .  I had it every morning of the trip
>and never grew tired of it (OK, I really like cereal for breakfast).  It 
>a sweet, crunchy 1,000 calorie boost that got me a long way down the trail.
>Tents/tarps - Not to toot my own horn too much but I made a hybrid tarptent
>for my hike and published the plans for it on my website (the address is
>below) .  It worked beautifully in rain, snow, and wind and weighs in at a
>whopping 18ozs complete (tarp w/netting, poles, and stakes).  I stayed dry
>and bug-free the entire trip.  I also used a Tyvek groundcloth that weighed
>about 5 oz and it lasted the whole trip.
>Bears - I know this might cause some controversy but I always felt
>comfortable sleeping with my food in a stealth camp.  The key for me was 
>I almost never camped where I cooked.  On the rare nights that I camped in 
>near an established camp in the High Sierra, I hung my food.  I wont go on
>record recommending the way I did it but all the bears I saw (about 10) 
>truly wild and ran away when they saw me.
>Filters - I used a Safewateranywhere inline filter spliced into the 
>tube on my Platypus bag.  It was an extremely lighweight, virtually 
>system.  My first filter made it to N. CA and the second one is still in 
>  At $25/filter it's a great buy and is (I think) the lightest filter on 
>market.  The best thing about the filter is that you just fill your bag and
>go.  Even the slightest trickle will fill the Platypus and then the 
>happens as you drink.  No need to stick a contaminated, blobby prefilter 
>a deep pool the way you do with the Pur Hiker or other similar filters.
>Sierra Snow - If I were to do it again, I would wait 'till about June 15
>before attempting the High Sierra.  I think Jardine is right on this issue.
>I left Kennedy Meadows on June 3 and arrived at Vermilion Valley on June 
>I spent a lot of painful hours postholing through far too many miles of 
>  Yeah, it was gorgeous and I had it to myself but I don't think it was 
>Rain/Wind/Cold- I had great success with a poncho (homemade of 1.1 oz
>silicone-coated nylon).  My pack and my body down to my knees stayed
>amazingly dry.  No messing around with leaky pack covers or plastic bags.
>There's enough windflow through the side gaps to keep condensation from
>building up and the poncho is especially great in shoulder or head high
>brush.  I never tried an umbrella but I know it would have failed miserably
>in the Washington brush.  I also want to put a plug in for the Patagonia
>Zephur jacket I carried through the High Sierra and Washington.  The
>polyester microfiber shell & fleece lining is phenomenal in the rain.  It's
>also windproof and very warm for the minimal weight.  A great product worth
>every penny.  Finally, I have to stand up and shout for my Gore Windstopper
>fleece hat (mine is made by OR).  Don't leave home without it.
>Shoes - My feet suffered horribly in the desert because my shoes (Montrail
>Vitesse) didn't breath well enough in the heat.  I trained all spring in 
>and never had a problem but the weather was cool and not a good simulation 
>the Mojave Desert.  Once I switched to a pair of New Balance 801s the
>blisters went away.  Those shoes have lots of mesh and breathe much better.
>The Montrails would have likely been OK for the cooler climes further north
>but I never switched back to find out.
>Camera - I carried an Olympus Stylus Epic.  I shot slide film and am very
>pleased with the results from the Ektachrome film but a little disappointed
>with the rolls of Kodachrome film.  It think it has something to do with 
>electronics in the light meter because the Kodachrome rolls are generally
>overexposed.  I wish I had done some testing with different film before I
>left home.  C'est la vie.
>That's all that comes to mind at the moment.  I'm off to go pop some more
>glucosamine for my aching knees...
>Henry Shires
>PCT 99
>Thruhiker Journal (pictures coming soon...)
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